As my year as your national president winds down, I have had the chance to reflect on my nearly 10 years participating in this organization; first as a premedical student and now as a physician. I’ve learned many lessons throughout my time here, but I believe the most important of them is the realization that I have a voice in a seemingly uncompromising system.
Many students are focused solely on what it takes to get into medical school and residency and don’t take the time to focus on anything outside of their immediate studies. When I was a first-year premedical student, I took the time to attend my first rally and lobby day. It was a new and somewhat nerve-racking experience to be a student on Capitol Hill, but it was also an empowering one. The issue that we were rallying behind, reauthorization of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, passed—in part due to AMSA’s support. the realization that students can have an impact on health policy and decision making was powerful. Health care is a constantly evolving, often unstoppable force, and students tend to feel that we have little say in it. the truth is that legislators are actually very interested in what students have to say. We are seen as unencumbered by the influences of industry and our opinions are therefore considered genuine. So I would encourage you to use this time that you have as students to get out and make a difference.
On another note, many changes have taken place within this organization over the past year and I am very excited to see where AMSA is heading. We have a new executive director who brings fresh ideas, and an absolutely wonderful staff who works incredibly hard to ensure that AMSA runs efficiently. We are moving back toward our history of grassroots activism to make sure that we continue to be the most powerful voice of physicians-in-training. With our Rally on Student Debt and Lobby Day at the 2015 Annual Convention, I believe that this is an indication of where we want to be.
I know for a fact that AMSA has shaped the path of where I am going and where I want to be as a health care provider. I am so grateful for the opportunity to have made an impact on the organization that has inspired so many over our 65-year history. I’d like to thank our membership and AMSA staff for everything that you do; this has truly been a life-changing experience.
Dr. Britani Kessler is AMSA’s national president and a recent graduate of Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine